President Trump on Tuesday weighed in on the resumption of impeachment hearings, though two Fox News hosts had advised him to refrain. "What is going on is a disgrace and it’s an embarrassment to our nation,” Trump told reporters, per the Hill. His Twitter feed also filled up with retweets defending him and ridiculing the proceedings. Fox's Brian Kilmeade and Laura Ingraham had separately advised Trump during their shows to stay above the fray, especially after Trump caused a ruckus with his impeachment tweets last week, report the Daily Beast and Mediaite. Also on Tuesday, Trump took some digs at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, one of two morning witnesses. Coverage:
- Morning takeaway: Both Vindman, a Ukraine expert with the NSC, and Jennifer Williams, a Mike Pence aide, reiterated to lawmakers that they were troubled by Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's leader, reports the AP. Both listened in on the call directly, and they stated similar concerns during their closed-door depositions. Vindman called it "improper" and Williams "unusual." Trump had previously criticized them both as "Never Trumpers" out to get him.
- Trump on Vindman: "I don't know Vindman at all," said Trump. "I watched him for a little while this morning, and I think he—I’m going to let people make their own determination." Trump took note of Vindman's military attire. "I understand now he wears his uniform when he goes in," Trump said. He also made a somewhat sarcastic reference to how Vindman corrected the GOP's Devin Nunes for calling him "Mr. Vindman" instead of using his rank. "I understand someone had the misfortune of calling him mister," said Trump.
- Trump on others: "These are names, like (William) Taylor, like (George) Kent with the bowtie, the wonderful bowtie. Maybe I’ll get one for myself one day,” Trump said, per the Washington Post. “All these people are talking about they heard a conversation of a conversation of another conversation that was had by the president. What is going on is a disgrace."
- AM opening statements: Read the prepared remarks via CNN of the first two witnesses, Vindman, here, and Williams, here. The opening statement of Democrat Adam Schiff is here and that of his GOP counterpart, Nunes, is here.
- Vindman: He spoke of his family's roots in fleeing the Soviet Union decades ago. "Dad," he said in his opening statement, "my sitting here today, in the US Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America." In his native land, speaking up about his concerns with a president's phone call might have gotten him killed, he said. "Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth."
- Williams: "I found the July 25th phone call unusual, because in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter," she said, referring to Trump's conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart.
- Nunes: He repeated a common refrain from the GOP: Where's the whistleblower who started all this? "Now that the whistleblower has successfully kick-started impeachment, he has disappeared from the story," Nunes said. "As if the Democrats put [him] in their own witness protection program."
- Schiff: He denounced earlier attacks on witnesses from Trump and his supporters. "Ms. Williams, we all saw the president's tweet about you on Sunday afternoon and the insults he hurled at Ambassador Yovanovitch last Friday," he said. "You are here today, and the American people are grateful." And to Vindman: "We have seen far more scurrilous attacks on your character, and watched as certain personalities on Fox have questioned your loyalty," he said. "I note that you have shed blood for America, and we owe you an immense debt of gratitude."
- In the afternoon: Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison, who has told the panel that he didn't hear anything illegal in the Trump phone call, testified. Read Volker's opening statement here and Morrison's here.
- Volker: He said he should have realized Trump's push for an investigation by Ukraine was connected to Joe Biden, who he said is an honorable man. If he had, Volker said, he'd have objected.
- Morrison: Democrat Eric Swalwell pushed on why Morrison wouldn't have thought Trump's July 25 phone call wasn't improper, per the Post. "It was not a policy objective that I was aware of," Morrison answered. Swalwell told him he believes Morrison didn't ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens because he knew it was an unlawful order.
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